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Sudan Calls UN Report on Darfur Unfair

The Sudanese government criticized a UN report issued Monday by a five-member mission that accused it of gross and systematic human rights violations in the western Darfur region.  

"The violations indicated in the report were not confirmed," Sudanese Justice Minister Ali Osman Yassin said, adding that the report was biased and unbalanced.


In Khartoum, a leader of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) on Tuesday called the panel's report as unfair and said Sudan would present its response to the UN Security Council this week.


NCP Secretary-General Ibrahim Ahmed Omar said that some claims in the report "are false" and "there are some misreading of some facts in some situations."


In the report, the five-member independent panel said the Sudanese government had not pursued a policy of genocide in Darfur but that along with the Janjaweed militias, it is responsible for violations of international human rights law and humanitarian law, which may amount to crimes against humanity.


The panel also found credible evidence that rebel forces, too, are responsible for serious violations that may amount to war crimes, including murder of civilians and pillage.


A spokesman for British Prime Minister Tony Blair said London was very concerned by the UN's findings in the report. "We have nothing to contradict the findings, but we do have to study the report" ahead of a discussion later this week in the Security Council, the spokesman said.


After the issue of the report, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged the Security Council to take urgent actions to stop violations of international human rights law and humanitarian law in the region. The secretary-general said in a statement that such grave crimes cannot be committed with impunity.


In addition, the commission gave Annan a sealed file of names of "likely suspects" and strongly recommended these individuals, including government officials, militia leaders and rebels, be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court (ICC).


On Tuesday, Annan called on the Security Council to refer rights abuses in Darfur to the ICC. The proposal will likely be opposed by the United States, which is a strong opponent of the court, based in The Hague, the Netherlands.


The US government has long accused Khartoum of pursuing a policy of genocide against black Africans in Darfur, and pushed the UN Security Council to impose oil and arms embargoes and other sanctions on Sudan.


US Republican lawmakers Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas and Representative Frank Wolf of Virginia criticized Monday's UN report for failing to recommend any action to stop the killing. The US lawmakers called on Annan to move immediately to end genocide in Sudan's Darfur region or resign.


In response to the US lawmakers' criticism, Annan's spokesman Fred Eckhard said the UN chief was not in a position to "force" members into action, and UN member nations alone decide what action the United Nations must take.


"I think it's wrong to assume that he could somehow force them to take a course of action and that should he not be successful, he would be obliged to step down. I think that's inconsistent with the Charter," said Eckhard.


The Darfur conflict, which flared up in early 2003, has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people and driven more than 1.8 million others from their homes.


(Xinhua News Agency February 3, 2005)

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Sudan: UN Clears Government of Genocide
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